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End of life care available for veterans

Greg Remus

It is eye opening to know that this year 25 percent of all deaths in the U.S. will be Veterans. It is also sad to note, this country is losing an incredibly patriotic segment of our population that cannot be replaced.

With that in mind, we need to go forward with the understanding of what resources are available when considering end of life needs. These heroic Americans deserve the benefits derived from their military service- particularly at the end of life's journey.

Most people immediately think of Medicare or Minnesota Care when exploring their options for palliative and hospice care. Most veterans and family members are surprised to learn that any Veteran enrolled for VA health care, regardless of assigned priority group, is eligible for hospice benefits through the VA as a standard feature of the medical benefits package. The VA will provide for or purchase needed hospice and palliative care services for all enrolled Veterans, whether those services are needed in an inpatient setting or in the home.

A veteran must have a VA doctor determine the need for hospice or palliative care. The VA will then coordinate for a team to be available to help the family and the veteran to meet the needs of that veteran.

Depending on the need they could arrange for help in the home as little as once a week or as much as once a day. If the veteran requires nursing home hospice, the VA will contract directly for that care. Someone recently told me that nursing home costs could easily exceed $6500 per month. The catch is the home needs to be a VA contracted nursing home. The Fargo VA Medical Center Palliative Care Unit has the list of contracted homes @ 1-800-410-9723, extn 9-2726.

My message to veterans is if you are eligible for enrollment into the VA health care system, do it now! When the need for hospice and palliative care arises, it's comforting for the Veteran and their family to know their needs can be met.

n Don't forget, on Friday, May 18, the Park Rapids American Legion Post 212 is honoring Lloyd Cortez Hawks, Medal of Honor recipient, who is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids.

There will be a dedication and unveiling ceremony at his gravesite, starting at 2:30 pm, an introduction of family and guest speakers at the American Legion at 3:30 pm followed by a fund raiser dinner immediately following.

You can ride the Heartland Express between the American Legion and Greenwood Cemetery. Lloyd's daughter, Charlotte Hawks Kearn and other family members will be present. The featured speakers are Brigadier General Neal Loidolt and Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Larry Shellito.

Special recognition will be given to WWII veterans as there will be a seating section at Greenwood Cemetery. Also featured will be the Patriot Guard and many local honor guards. It would be wonderful to have a crowd to recognize his accomplishments.

As always the purpose of the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office is to provide assistance and support to eligible veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits through the State and Federal Departments of Veterans Affairs, and to provide benefit counseling, claims service, referral and assistance in a variety of other programs. You can contact me at the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office at 201 Fair Ave, Park Rapids, 732-3561. Have a great day!

Please note - I will be in Laporte at the Lakeport Town Hall from 9-noon and at the ARCC in Akeley from 1-3 p.m. every 3rd Thursday of each month.